Saturday, April 11, 2015

'Right Action'





Dragging up Ruth Fuller Sasaki from an old blog, made me go back to the books I had bought at the time.  And it unleashed in LS, the following mantra this morning,(deeply intoned because it should come from the stomach) and a spate of memories.  So first the prayer....



This is the first prayer in the meditation hall, you sit on a large cushion and meditate for 25 minutes, and then you get up and take some exercise outside, about the same length of time as you meditate. During the meditation there are two monks monitoring your behaviour, should you fall asleep for instance.
When LS as a young man did this at Ryosen-an, the two guardian monks were his teacher Dana Fraser and Gary Snyder on occasions, their role was to walk the circuit of the hall around the devotees.  For instance if you started to nod, they would stand in front of you with a flat sided cane, bow to you, you would bow in return and then they tap your shoulders lightly, before administering a sharp whack on each shoulder.  It did not hurt only woke you up.
I am fascinated by the exchange of cultures that went on in this temple, the ever greedy West wanting to take up a new cult religion, for I think that is how they saw it,  Ruth.F.Sasaki with her wealth making it possible with her translations, slightly autocratic this lady, Snyder says of her....

"Ruth Fuller did not become interested in Zen Buddhism because she was a bohemian, an artist, or any sort of cultural revolutionary.  She entered on this path because she was more than very smart; she was smart enough to realise that her own power and drive and capacity were a little too much.. from her teenage years she set herself against the assumptions of theistic religions and their language of heaven and hell, evil and sin......

Ruth Fuller Sasaki was a Lady, a Zen Lady, a title she would never shrink from.  She was to become an ordained Zen priest with her own temple in Kyoto"

LS a young English art student, fresh from Swindon Art College, having to meld into a new way of life, a life that he still feels strongly today, an outside mind would say this is because of a young person yet to mature. The strong traditions of the temple complex, the gardens and the people creating a different world, and perhaps strangely enough different foods.





LS's old prayer book - The Wooden Fish. basic Sutras and Gathas of Rinzai Zen.
Prepared by Kanetsuki Gutetsu & Gary Snyder
The First Zen Institute of America in Japan 1961




Snyder has always been a favourite poet of mine, he has the same simple framing of the world that I have, a direct relationship I suppose you would call it. Addressing the creatures around, giving them form and language in your own mind and perhaps above all acknowledging that we are all equal, superiority is just a word we humans use.  When I was about 18, decided that I needed a religious background, so read round the subject but never came up with the answer, the old bible's words, which I read from beginning to end shocked me.  I must have read round Buddhism at the time as well, but only came out with two words 'Right Action', it seemed a good enough simple model, walk away from anger, do not hurt deliberately......
Curiosity leads me along certain paths, I know Snyder's words at the beginning of Mountains and Rivers Without End, conjures up endless images and thoughts, a winding river especially, floating one's thoughts to an ever greater sea of speculation or perhaps nonsense who knows....

Clearing the mind and sliding in
to that created space,
a web of waters streaming over rocks,
air misty but not raining,
seeing this land from a boat on a lake
or a broad slow river,
coasting by.


The new Header; Is a photograph taken from a favourite spot, the mist lies in the valley over Bath, the deer chase across the field, the cows feeding in the background, and to the right would have been Kelston Round Hill, and the landscape flowing out to the great Severn estuary and the sea.

And if you want to follow the old hippies of the 60s there is Alan Watt on You Tube..

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